[Hpn] Ex-homeless people make good staff? Why or why not? Your experiences?

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Wed, 27 Sep 2000 11:09:54 -0700 (PDT)

How do formerly homeless people "work out" as staff in programs for
homeless people, such as shelters?  What's your personal experience?

What factors might explain how well or badly ex-homeless staff "work out"?

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Sep 24, 2000
     Photo Advisory  AZCAS101 of Sept. 22


     Casa Grande Dispatch

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) _ At one time, Randy Schafer was living
on the streets, eating from trash bins and sleeping in the open air
while suppressing his drug addiction. Now, more than 20 years
later, Schafer is lending helping hand to the homeless as the new
Seeds of Hope director.

Schafer lived on the streets for almost a month when he first
moved to Arizona from California. He tried unsuccessfully to change
his lifestyle and desperately wanted out of the drug societal
circle. Schafer hoped for a change.

After basic needs overtook pride and shame, Schafer called an
uncle, who lived in the Phoenix area, for help. That was 1979.
Since then, Schafer has obtained his GED and received a bachelor's
degree in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University. He
became a Christian and got married to the daughter of a preacher.
They have three children and Schafer said he has since devoted his
life to God.

``That's what we're here for. We're here for Jesus Christ, to
honor him,'' he said.

And since Seeds of Hope is a Christian-based organization, it
seems like a good match.

Sure, there is more money in engineering, he said, but Schafer
felt led to this job. There is more satisfaction here than in
engineering, he said.

``This allows me to work with the disadvantaged, and that is
where my heart is.''

It is a scriptural mandate to help others, Schafer said.

``They must see the Christ in me. I can't tell them, I must show

Schafer's wife, Jan, taught him about Christianity while they
were dating. He sang in the choir and has taught Sunday school for
the past 15 years. Schafer also has been involved in a prison
fellowship for the last five years, but that wasn't enough for him.
There was a calling to the ministry in some way, but the road was
not visible to Schafer just yet. All he knew was that he wanted to
help people by giving them a hand up.

His career before Seeds of Hope included being a machinist in
Phoenix before moving to Casa Grande in 1983. Schafer also worked
for Allied Signal as a project manager on the B-2 bomber from 1985
to 1990. For the past 10 years, he ran Vision-Air Inc. In June of
this year the business closed, but he managed to find jobs for all
of his employees but one, who started up his own company. It was
hard to find his own niche in the religious society, but the new
job is leading Schafer in the right direction.

This fall he plans to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in
Phoenix to work on obtaining a master's degree in divinity. He has
begun the ordination process to pastor for a Presbyterian church

But going to school will only take up part of his time _
full-time work will be at Seeds of Hope, expanding the program to
help more people, especially those in west Casa Grande.

Schafer wants to meet with the Seeds of Hope board to discuss
expanding the efforts on the west side of town and to build a
church-based community there.

Another goal for Schafer is to open an additional soup kitchen
for westside residents. Currently, there is only one soup kitchen
in Casa Grande.

``We are feeding those who wouldn't eat otherwise,'' he said.

Peer leaders and adults help children through the Cabana Project
at Seeds of Hope, and Schafer wants to expand that program as well.

A peer leadership program is also on the goal list to teach
children leadership skills, and a program for children and young
adults who have completed Project YES (a Seeds of Hope program in
which court-referred youths do community service) and who want to
continue their service. That is where the churches come in _ to
entertain with family activities.

``If you really want to affect people, empower them to give to
others,'' Schafer said.

AP-WS-09-25-00 0005EDT
Received  Id AP1002687644B03A on Sep 24 2000 23:05


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